Happy 2018, readers. I hope you’re having a beautiful start to the new year.
This time of the year is magical for me. I enjoyed sharing extra special moments with families and friends, combined with delicious, comfort food (for weeks in a row). I also loved the holiday decors both at home and while being out and about. These moments can really be savored all year long. Sleeping until 9 a.m. has been typical for my family and I this past week as our bodies recovered from all the festivities.
Finishing the Old and Starting the New
As of yesterday, we’ve taken care most of our financial matters for year 2017, with the exception of paying property taxes and filing for tax return. We made purchases in my i401k account, rebalanced our investment portfolio, updated our financial accounts and made a projected budget for this year. So far, the two biggest, one-time expenses we’re looking at are money going toward paying for two international trips. Other than the usual recurring basic expenses, we also have several home renovation projects we want to accomplish.
December 2017 Non-W2 Incomes Report
Our Services in the Community (also available to you)
November was a very rewarding and joyful month in my household. My husband and I started the month off offering free financial and fitness coaching services. In the spirit of the holiday season, this is our way of giving and expressing our thanks to those we care about and to you, readers of our blogs (I’m linking my husband’s blog here; He recently shared quarterly update on our total net worth on his blog).
There’re two more weeks left if you’d like my husband (and/or I) to take a look at your current financial situation and provide you a roadmap helping you reach your financial goals in year 2018 and beyond. To learn more about this offer, visit an older post here. We’ve already gifted about 50 hours of time so far between the two of us.
On the topic of services, my husband and I have also attended several orientation sessions in preparation to do more volunteering related to financial education and financial literacy in the upcoming year. Some of the organizations we are networking with are Junior Achievement and Caritas (an organization to prevent and end homelessness).
Some Life Updates
Back in September, 2017, when I shared on the blog that my husband was going to join me in early retirement, many of you asked about our health care insurance situation once he leaves his W2 employment. In this post, I’m sharing the process my family and I went through to get health care coverage for year 2018.
The Perceived Obstacle to Our Early Retirement
The thought of having to pay the high cost of health insurance premium out-of-pocket (we were thinking about $1,000/month) was one of the biggest reasons my husband and I hesitated about retiring early. Early retirement conversations first came up between us around year 2012. Back then, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a mystery to us, and we were too lazy/busy to do more research.
I’m typically pretty resourceful and I’d search above and beyond to get the information I want. However, the following years continued to be big transition times for my family and I, and learning more about ACA was not on the priority list. So, as a couple, we reasoned (and made a compromise) that we’d have to work more years to save up for full, out-of-pocket health insurance premiums and retire when we reach our late 40s or early 50s.
New Information Helped Made Early Retirement Possible for Us
I Didn’t See Myself Being a Good Teacher/Coach
I’m what some people might call a Type A, perfectionist, or over-achiever. I have high standards for myself. Growing up and while in school, unlike many other Asian parents, mine didn’t pressure me to receive certain grades or go into a certain profession. I was always the one that was self-driven and put lots of pressure on myself.
Knowing that about myself, I didn’t pursue a career in teaching, despite having contemplated becoming a teacher during my freshmen year in college. Yet, somehow, being in academia attracted me (and the over-achiever in me) and I went on pursuing a doctoral degree. While finishing up my advanced degree, I was a teacher’s assistant for two semesters. I did not enjoy that experience. I lacked the patience. Being a mother has been a trying experience for me every day. I’m very thankful to have an extremely patient partner along my side.
Several months ago, when my husband suggested to me to consider doing financial coaching with him, specifically to work with couples, I immediately closed the conversation. It was not that I lacked interest. Everything I do and share on this blog stems from my strong desire to inspire, encourage and promote smart and savvy financial skills. I just didn’t see myself being a good coach. I lacked the confidence.
Self-doubts were casting all over my head. To give you an example:
When I was an inexperienced investor, I spent a lot of time researching potential company stocks and index (or mutual) funds. In retrospect, most of the performance indicators I paid attention to were important for evaluating a purchase. However, expense ratio (a.k.a retirement savings account fees or expenses) was one element I wish I had taken more seriously.
I didn’t even know about compounding when I made my first stock purchase back in 2009. And once I learned about compounding, I didn’t know that fees also compound while my savings compound. Even after I became aware of expense ratios, it didn’t occur to me right away that I needed to learn what those fees are or read about their potential impacts.
That was, until last year. Those sayings that go like, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” and “You don’t know how little you know until you start learning.” are so true in this case. To this date, every day, I’m still finding out I have a lot to learn on investing, growing and protecting my money.
In this article, I bring your attention to retirement account fees and their potential impacts when left ignored. These fees are typically a small percentage of your account balance, making it easy for uninformed investors to ignore or overlook. Yet, the fees can slowly eat away your investment returns over 5, 10, 15 or 20 years time span.
Using research studies on 401(k) plans and number examples, I shared below how retirement savings account fees can dramatically affect your ability to retire and how much money you have during retirement. The contents and messages are also applicable to IRAs and any types of individual retirement savings accounts where someone (or an entity) is involved in helping you manage your money.
Did You Know?